American eights stood out on the fourth day at Henley Royal Regatta but seven of Sunday’s 20 finals will be all-British affairs after some brutal racing with the gusty headwind that has been a feature all week continuing to make life hard.
Brown University will take on a California RC crew made up of oarsmen who just missed out on Olympic selection in the final of the Regatta’s blue ribbon Grand Challenge Cup, and another Brown crew face University of Washington freshmen in the Temple Challenge Cup for student eights.
Harvard University will race a British eight from Leander Club in the Ladies’ Challenge Plate after beating a Molesey composite crew coxed by Sydney Olympian Rowley Douglas in today’s semi-final.
But the Americans did not have things all their own way. In the Prince Albert Challenge Cup for coxed fours, University of London ‘A’ came out best in a neck-and-neck tussle with Harvard. As they attempt to win the event for the first time since 2007, UL must tomorrow face the winners in 2008, Newcastle University, who beat Imperial College in their semi-final.
Fours from Nottingham RC and Star Club of Bedford booked places in Henley finals for the second successive year, in the Wyfold Challenge Cup and Britannia Challenge Cup respectively, but Tideway Scullers’ School suffered defeats in the semi-finals of both events.
Star beat London RC with ease and will face Taurus BC, who just held off Scullers for a three-quarter-length victory early in the day.
Nottingham's verdict in their semi-final today - beating Scullers by three-quarters of a length - is exactly the same as it was last year, at the end of a bruising encounter. Having lost in last year's final they will seek to go one better against Australian club ANA on Sunday.
“It's the first race I've been nervous in for a long time, whether rowing myself or coaching,” said Nottingham coach Dan Johnson.
“Conditions were really horrible, really gusty but the crew kept loose and it was pleasing to see them be so ruthless.”
In the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup, Leander’s quadruple scull will take on a four-club composite hoping to compete for Great Britain at the Under-23 World Championships. Leander braved a sudden rain storm just before lunch to beat Bayer Leverkusen of Germany after the under-23s, rowing as Durham University and University of London, overcame New Zealand’s West End RC.
Thames RC will face Molesey in the final of the Thames Challenge Cup after withstanding a furious late push from Upper Thames RC as the latter passed their own clubhouse half-way up the course. Thames won by two thirds of a length. Molesey, who won the event in 2009, cruised past Royal Chester.
Abingdon School, the National Schools Regatta winners, beat their Australian counterparts from Scotch College, Melbourne, but Hampton School – second at National Schools – lost to Radley College in a gripping semi-final later in the day. Marlow RC face Sir William Borlase’s School in the final of the Fawley Challenge Cup for quads, having defeated Prince Alfred College of Australia on Saturday.
The final of the inaugural Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls will be a repeat of the Henley Women’s Regatta final in the event. On that occasion, Henley RC beat Canford School by a length.
Sunday’s action will begin with a row up the course at 11am by a group of Olympians in the Royal Barge, Gloriana, which has been moored at the Regatta site all week. 1948 Olympians Paul Bircher and Michael Lapage will be amongst the crew, as will James Cracknell of a more recent Olympic vintage.